Police have set up traffic stops on the main roads leading to Madrid in the lockdown

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Police put in place checks and stopped cars on main roads to and from Madrid on Saturday as the city returned to lockdown due to the surge in coronavirus cases.

Some 4.8 million people are banned from leaving the capital, while restaurants and bars have to close prematurely and cut capacity by half.

The new restrictions, which began on Friday evening, are not as strict as the previous lockout in March, when people were not allowed to leave their homes.

A local policeman checks the identity of a driver at a traffic control point to control the movement of people in Madrid today

Spanish police officers stand guard at a roadblock in the Moncloa district of Madrid, Spain today

Spanish police officers stand guard at a roadblock in the Moncloa district of Madrid, Spain today

Residents of the Spanish capital of Madrid will not be allowed to leave the area under the new coronavirus restrictions imposed by the government.  Pictured: A traveler passes through Adolfo Suarez-Madrid Barajas International Airport.

Residents of the Spanish capital of Madrid will not be allowed to leave the area under the new coronavirus restrictions imposed by the government. Pictured: A traveler passes through Adolfo Suarez-Madrid Barajas International Airport.

However, authorities have advised residents not to move unless absolutely necessary. Travel is prohibited except for work, school, health or shopping.

“There are fewer people than usual, the shops are empty, the bars are empty, there is a feeling of sadness,” said Valerio Rojo, director of the cultural organization Circulo de Bellas Artes.

“We had reservations, but a lot of people called to cancel them,” said Macarena Molina, who works at a hostel in central Madrid. “Today we had a reservation through Booking and they canceled just an hour before they said they weren’t going to travel due to the restrictions. “

The latest measures ordered by the socialist-led central government were reluctantly imposed by the conservative-led Madrid government, which said they would cripple the economy.

Madrid Emergency Service (SUMMA) health workers perform antigen testing for residents of Vallecas, Madrid

Madrid Emergency Service (SUMMA) health workers perform antigen testing for residents of Vallecas, Madrid

Madrid police stand at city checkpoints as the capital enters another lockdown

Madrid police stand at city checkpoints as the capital enters another lockdown

Bars and restaurants in Madrid are to close at 11 p.m. instead of 1 a.m., while restaurants, gyms and shops are to halve capacity. Gatherings of more than six people remain prohibited.

Near the Plaza Mayor, usually packed with tourists on Saturday lunchtimes, waiter Luis stood, menu in hand, trying to do business.

“Nobody passes here,” he said. “I don’t know how long we’re going to keep our jobs.

“Nothing has changed, it’s like any other day in the neighborhood,” shrug Martinio Sanchez on a busy street in Madrid.

“They should have done it in August and maybe we wouldn’t be where we are now,” said the 70-year-old while walking his dog in the eastern neighborhood of Ciudad Lineal.

A man watches the arrivals screen at Adolfo Suarez-Madrid Barajas International Airport as the city prepares to enter a local lockdown

A man watches the arrivals screen at Adolfo Suarez-Madrid Barajas International Airport as the city prepares to enter a local lockdown

A team of health workers prepare to take swabs from residents of Vallecas, Madrid, as the capital records rising numbers of coronavirus cases

A team of health workers prepare to take swabs from residents of Vallecas, Madrid, as the capital records rising numbers of coronavirus cases

Under the new restrictions, the city's borders closed to non-essential travel and gatherings will be limited to six people.  Pictured: People line up for an antigen test in Vallecas, Madrid

Under the new restrictions, the city’s borders closed to non-essential travel and gatherings will be limited to six people. Pictured: People line up for an antigen test in Vallecas, Madrid

Some 4.5 million people are affected by the shutdown, which went into effect at 10 p.m. (2000 GMT) Friday as the region battles the highest rate in the European Union.

“It affects me because I work outside of Madrid and cannot move with the freedom I would like,” Alberto Sanchez, 45-year-old sales manager, told AFP, saying the regional government should have acted much sooner.

“It could have been different if the Madrid region had done its homework and started hiring contact plotters four months ago and following the advice of Europe and the government,” he said.

But inside the city, little seemed to have changed, with life going largely business as usual on a bright October morning with an autumnal chill in the area.

“Everything is open and you can’t see the police anywhere. We can move around Madrid, but you can’t go out to neighboring villages or to the mountains, ”says Feliza Sanchez, 78.

“I don’t know how this will change the current situation. “

A waiter disinfects a table on a bar terrace in Leganes, Madrid, Spain today

A waiter disinfects a table on a bar terrace in Leganes, Madrid, Spain today

Sitting on a bar stool drinking a beer and a slice of Spanish omelette, Jorge Alvarez said the restrictions wouldn’t have much of an impact on his life.

“In principle, nothing will change. I’m going to continue living a normal life because you can’t lock yourself inside your house without working, ”said Alvarez, a 49-year-old steelworker.

“Who knows if this will stop the spread of the virus? But obviously people in the bar and restaurant business are going to lose a lot of money, ”he said.

For those in the bar and restaurant industry, who have to cut their indoor seating in half and close at 11:00 p.m., the new rules are a blow, especially in a country where people tend to socialize late in the morning. the night.

“It’s going to affect us terribly,” said Baldomero Cubas, 50, who runs Cerveceria Santa Ana in the city center.

“With this measure, many bars will think about closing, because if we had difficulties before, we can now only have a capacity of 60% outside and 50% inside. And on top of that, with an 11am close, we’re looking for a loss rather than a break-even point.

And some fear they won’t survive, such as Jorge Luis Ortega Pina, who owns the Degustando Tavern, a tiny but popular bar in Ciudad Lineal with counters for just 15 people.

“I’m almost certainly going to have to close,” said the 50-year-old, standing behind a gleaming counter. He adds that he has done everything to try to create a distance between the customers.

“With these restrictions, I will have the chance to bring in 1,500 euros ($ 1,750) per month and we are a family of four. I have no idea how I’m going to get through this.

People, he said, had been brought to their knees by the economic devastation caused by the pandemic which had left many people struggling to survive, even with financial assistance from the government.

“There are going to be riots in the streets,” he warned, saying even the charitable sector was grappling with the large number of people in need.

“Caritas is overwhelmed, the Red Cross is overwhelmed, everything is falling apart,” he said.

With 850 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the World Health Organization, the Madrid region has the worst rate in Europe.

Spain had 789,932 coronavirus cases on Friday, up 11,325 since Thursday, and there have been 32,086 deaths. Daily deaths are at about their highest level since early May, although well below the late March record of nearly 900.

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